When McDonald’s and Pfizer frame the issues

The best, most cherished and most useful powers that powerful people and powerful institutions have are the powers to name things, and to frame the issues.  Naming and framing are critical to our understanding of the issues, and there are many components to it, not the least of which is how the words look and feel on the page.  When a thing is properly named, or an issue is properly framed, the language evokes a feeling, a mental image or a sound that is similar to the thing itself, and the observer is emotionally manipulated to feel a certain way about whatever-it-is.  And over time, even if the words don’t feel a certain way initially, they take on an emotional essence based on whatever imagery, politicking and discourse has surrounded it from day one.

Think about the name “Pampers” (a brand-name of disposable diapers) for example.  It sounds completely benign, even positive, even though there are many horrors closely associated with all disposable diapers, including environmental concerns and the tremendous burden and difficult circumstances often surrounding the caretaking of young children.

In a nutshell, the process of naming and framing is similar to “marketing.”  And it helps to think of all things in this context.

Enter McDonald’s.  Recently, msnbc.com reported that the restaurant chain multinational corporation has “stopped using an unappetizing pink goo — made from treating otherwise inedible scrap meat with the chemical [ammonium hydroxide] — several months ago.”  Unappetizing is right!  But does McDonald’s use that same language to name this crap it’s been putting into its food all this time?  Of course not.

From the article:

In a statement, McDonald’s clarified that it stopped using “select lean beef trimmings” — its preferred term for scrap meat soaked in ammonium hydroxide and ground into a pink meatlike paste — at the beginning of last year.

“This product has been out of our supply chain since August of last year,” it said.

Sarah Prochaska, a registered dietitian at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, said that ammonium hydroxide is widely used in the U.S. food industry but that consumers may not be able to know what products include it because the USDA considers it a component in a production procedure — separating scrap meat — and not an ingredient that must be listed on food labels.

“It’s a process, from what I understand, called ‘mechanically separated meat’ or ‘meat product,'” Prochaska [said].

Select lean beef trimmings!  You know, like grandma used to trim off the roast before putting it into the oven.  Oh grandma, I miss her so much, she used to cook the best food, I remember one Thanksgiving…oops!  Drifted off there for a moment.

But what is this stuff really?  Well, while the government corporate co-conspirator and enabler generally recognizes this ingredient substance as safe (the criteria for which is not reported in the article) if you say it right, it does start to sound like something you don’t want to put in your mouth:

Besides being used as a household cleaner and in fertilizers, the compound releases flammable vapors, and with the addition of certain acids, it can be turned into ammonium nitrate, a common component in homemade bombs. It’s also widely used in the food industry as an anti-microbial agent in meats and as a leavener in bread and cake products. It’s regulated by the U.S. Agriculture Department, which classifies it as “generally recognized as safe.”

And since it appears to be in everything, and doesn’t appear on nutrition labels, the only sure way to not eat it is to buy fresh food and cook it at home.

In other seemingly unrelated (but in reality, completely related) news, Pfizer has recalled 1-million packets of birth control pills because of a “packaging error” that has rendered the pills ineffective, potentially placing up to a million women in harm’s way, I mean putting up to a million women at risk for unwanted pregnancy:

‘As a result of this packaging error, the daily regimen for these oral contraceptives may be incorrect and could leave women without adequate contraception, and at risk for unintended pregnancy,’ according to a Pfizer statement on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

Pfizer found that some packets of the drugs had too many active tablets, while others had too few.


The birth control pills posed no health threat to women, Pfizer said, but it urged consumers affected by the recall to “begin using a non-hormonal form of contraception immediately.”

The drugmaker said the issue involved 14 lots of Lo/Ovral-28 tablets and 14 lots of Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol tablets.

A company spokeswoman said the problem was caused by both mechanical and visual inspection failures on the packaging line, The Associated Press reported.

She said the problem has been corrected.

Ah okay, a packaging error, like that time I put some chicken in the freezer in a regular ziplock bag instead of a freezer bag.  Oh well, it could happen to anyone.  And it’s definitely not anything to call your lawyer about, and definitely not anything that should cause you to examine the big picture, like how we are all encouraged to be trusting of men and men’s institutions and men’s multinational corporations (and Big Pharma) to safeguard women’s lives and reproductive health, and how foolish that really is, considering that men are putting women in danger constantly, especially with regard to our reproductive health.

Or how we are expected to think of PIV as sex, and sex as sexxxay-funtime without female-specific consequences, unsupportive of male power (or irrelevant to it).  No, whatever you do, do not allow this insignificant little mix-up by Pfizer remind (re-mind) you of any of that.

Because chicken.  Moving on…